Rhea gets bail, walks out of jail after 28 days
Mumbai, October 7, 2020
The Bombay High Court today granted conditional bail to Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty, and two others, but rejected the bail plea of her brother Showik, in a drugs case arising out of the investigations into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Justice S.V. Kotwal, who had completed the hearing on the bail applications on September 29 and reserved his ruling, pronounced the much-anticipated order this morning.
The Court granted bail on surety of Rs one Lakh to Rhea, and of Rs 50,000 each to Sushant's staffer Dipesh Sawant and house manager Samuel Miranda.
However, Justice Kotwal rejected the bail pleas by Showik Chakraborty and alleged drug peddler Abdul Basit Parihar.
The five accused had sought bail from the high court after the Special NDPS Court here rejected their applications last month.
Hours after she was granted bail, Rhea, who was the girl-friend of Sushant, walked out of the Byculla Jail this evening after spending28 days in custody since her arrest by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on September 8.
In full media glare with tight police security, she quickly stepped into a vehicle and was driven off to her home in Santacruz in the western suburbs.
Welcoming the court order, her lawyer Satish Maneshinde said "truth and justice have prevailed" and ultimately the submissions on facts and law have been accepted by Justice Kotwal".
"The arrest and custody of Rhea was totally unwarranted and beyond the reach of law. The hounding and witch hunt by three central agencies -- the CBI, ED and NCB -- of Rhea should come to an end. We remain committed to truth. Satyameva Jayate," he added.
In the evening, Maneshinde expressed relief, saying Rhea will finally get to sleep on her own after a month in the jail.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner of Police Sangram Singh Nishandar again warned the paparazzi against chasing or obstructing any vehicles in which persons called for investigations travel in view of safety of all the stakeholders.
The five were among the 20 arrested by the NCB in connection with the drugs angle probe into the death of Rajput.
Only yesterday, the Special NDPS Court had extended Rhea's judicial custody till October 20.
Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh, appearing on behalf of NCB pleaded for a stay on the operation of the order, but Justice Kotwal declined it.
Rhea and Showik's advocate Maneshinde, and lawyers for the other co-accused Rajendra Rathod, Tariq Sayed and Subhodh Desai had strongly argued in the case of bail for their clients.
Among other things, they contended that the NCB lacked jurisdiction to probe the matter in view of the Supreme Court order of August 19 directing to hand over all investigations in the Sushant case to the CBI, the offences under which the accused were nabbed by the NCB were bailable and the charges under the NDPS Act Section 217A against the accused did not have supporting evidence.
Countering the defence lawyers' arguments, Singh maintained that the NCB had jurisdiction in the probe and had sufficient evidence to prove that the accused were part of a larger narcotics syndicate.
Among the conditions listed for Rhea's bail were depositing her passport with the NCB, reporting to the local police station daily for 10 days, not leaving Mumbai without informing the NCB, etc.
Similarly, Sawant and Miranda have also been asked to submit their passports as per the conditions.
In an unprecedented swoop to "uproot the Bollywood drug citadel", the NCB had made the sensational arrest of Rhea, Showik, drug peddlers and narcotics suppliers, and persons linked with the film industry during August-September in connection with the drugs angle which surfaced during the investigations of Sushant's death case.
The 18 others arrested till September-end are: Dipesh Sawant, Samuel Miranda, Abbas Lakhani, Karan Arora, Zaid Vilatra, Abdul Basit Parihar, Kaizan Ebrahim, Anuj Keswani, Ankush Arenja, Kamarjeet Singh Anand, Sanket Patel, Sandeep Gupta, Aftab Ansari, Dwyane Fernandes, Suryadeep Malhotra, Chris Costa, Rahil Vishram and Kshitij R. Prasad.
Some of the accused have been granted bail, others remain in custody for varying periods as the NCB probe continues. The NCB has already questioned three leading actresses.